Thomas F. Salzer

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Thomas Franz Wilhelm Salzer (born July 11, 1912 in St. Pölten ; † May 13, 2008 in Vienna ) was an Austrian industrialist and old publisher . He managed companies in the paper industry and founded the book publisher Carl Ueberreuter in 1946 .

Live and act

Youth and early career

Thomas Franz Wilhelm Salzer comes from a family that can be traced back to around 1550 in Bohemia and has established a foothold in the paper industry in the Wiener Neustadt area since 1795 and in St. Pölten since 1798. In 1866 the family business also took over the Ueberreuter printing company in Vienna-Alsergrund.

After completing secondary school in St. Pölten, Thomas Salzer learned the printing trade at the graphic teaching and research institute in Vienna. While his brother Heinrich Wilhelm Franz (1914–1968) was supposed to take over the paper factory in St. Pölten and above all the paper wholesaling in Vienna, he was intended to take over primarily the printing company and from 1933 collected as a trainee in graphic companies at home and abroad Abroad's rich experiences.

In 1935 he joined the Ueberreuter printing company as technical operations manager, in 1938 Thomas took over its overall management and in 1941, like his brother, also became de jure partner of his father Johann Baptist Franz Albert (1888–1977), who was mainly responsible for the St. Pölten paper mill ( Salzer Paper ). Drafted in 1942 and captured by the Americans in 1945, Thomas was released in July.

Post-war activity

The paper factory in the St. Pölten district of Stattersdorf was shut down in the winter of 1944/45 due to a lack of coal and wood. Since the Soviets had plundered the remaining supplies, production could only start on a daily basis at the end of 1945. In addition, the Soviets pushed for a change of ownership, but this crisis was overcome in October 1945 through the mediation of the Mayor of St. Pölten, Franz Käfer .

Since the Soviets were unable to print books as a result of the destruction of their own infrastructure, the state publisher there placed a major order for school books with the Salzer company. A Soviet colonel was posted to support the restarting operation in February 1946, who supported the father, who had meanwhile also come home, with the procurement of wood and coal as well as means of transport. Although the Soviets withdrew their officer in May 1946, the trucks needed to transport the paper from St. Pölten to the printing plant in Vienna were left behind. Overall, the Soviets "occupied" the St. Pölten plant for about a year, but never interfered in the company's agendas.

In the end, despite the location in the Soviet zone of occupation, it was possible to get funds for investments from the Marshall Plan . Since St. Pölten was “on track”, Thomas was able to devote himself entirely to the print shop in Vienna, which was his real interest.

In 1946 he founded the youth book publisher Carl Ueberreuter , trusting that in addition to the restart of the school there was also a lot of catching up to do in the private sector . As a result, the already existing production chain cellulose-paper- making -printing-bookbinding was completed with the still missing area of book sales . When Salzer later also entered the textbook sector, he refreshed this market with his colorful products for the time. In the long term, another mainstay emerged that has not only become important for domestic cultural life, but also today, thanks to a strong distribution network in Germany, is the only Austrian publisher with a high export share (80% of sales) to serve the entire German-speaking market. The black and white paperback books and especially the main suggestion volumes for the German Book Association , at that time the second largest book club in Germany after Bertelsmann , with print runs of several hundred thousand copies, for which Salzer also organized the dispatch from Austria, brought the strongest sales .

Even before the end of the occupation (1955), Salzer made extensive investments in the machinery at the Vienna IX location, and soon afterwards he started expanding the printing works, as far as this was possible with the current building law. In view of the rapid technical development of EDP, Salzer was the first in Austria to switch to phototypesetting and installed both an offset department and its own continuous printing company for computer forms.

Late career

Since the transport of 8,000 tons of paper and finished books (1973: 8 million books per year, a third of Austrian book exports) in and out of the narrow Vienna area was becoming more and more difficult and the location had otherwise become much too small, Salzer acquired around 60,000 m² industrial property in Korneuburg and had the then most modern American, approximately 35 m long "book machine" installed there. This machine revolutionized the production of black and white books by enabling all operations from the paper roll to the finished book block in one pass. In 1972 the continuous form printing shop moved, in 1974 (???) the bookbinding shop, most recently the offset printing shop. The purchase of the Schlöglmühl paper factory in 1973, where Salzer also wanted to produce wood-like paper and cardboard to supplement the range, was ultimately not worth it. At that time, Ueberreuter alone, including the publishing staff, employed 450 people. A total of 1200 employees were counted at the four locations St. Pölten, Vienna, Korneuburg and Schlöglmühl, and Salzer was one of the 100 largest companies in Austria with a total turnover of around 900 million schillings.

In 1968 the St. Pölten cellulose production was shut down in favor of the entry into the Styrofoam sector (packaging, technical molded parts) with the most modern machinery.

After carrying out this restructuring, in which his older son Michael Johann Rudolf (* 1941) was already involved, Thomas Salzer withdrew from the management in 1982 and also gave up all tasks in paper organizations at home and abroad, for example in the international association the continuous printer that he was a co-founder.

Thomas Salzer was buried at the Pötzleinsdorfer Friedhof (group F, number 87) in Vienna.

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